Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Cooking It Up

Amber Abrego

From long practices to competitions, culinary requires a lot of dedication and energy. Junior Amber Abrego, who has had a passion for the culinary arts since she was young, has put in hours of work to develop her skills. Through her years of culinary classes, she’s learned new skills and important lessons.

Abrego began taking culinary classes as a freshman in high school, but her journey with baking started years earlier. Growing up she would spend time baking with her mother, who ignited her passion and inspired her to get involved in the culinary arts.

“I started baking a lot with my mom when I was younger, and I used to make cakes for my families’ birthdays. I really enjoyed that, then I realized there’s a baking and pastry class at Ben Barber. It’s the third class, so you have to take two classes beforehand, but I thought it was worth it so why not take it, and it would be fun too,” Abrego said.

Abrego’s first culinary class was at Lake Ridge before she began taking more advanced courses at Ben Barber. Classes at Ben Barber gave Abrego an opportunity to learn more about life in the culinary industry and provided her with the time and resources she needed to develop her skills.

“At Ben Barber there’s a three hour class period versus at home campus it’s only an hour and a half, so you have a lot more time to do different activities. You’re also working in an actual commercial kitchen so you have more access to different materials and things that will allow you to be able to be more successful when creating things,” Abrego said. “We have a proofer, we have different types of oven, we have pizza ovens, and just a lot of different materials that give you more experience.”

Culinary isn’t just a passing hobby for Abrego. When looking at the future, Abrego still sees herself involved in the culinary world. Her passion for cooking and baking has given her the drive she needs to make it into a career she enjoys.

“I want to go into either hospitality or go to culinary school. My first thought was becoming a pastry chef, but after doing restaurant management competitions it makes me want to go into hospitality and become a restaurant manager. I’m keeping my options open, but I do want to stay in the culinary world after high school,” Abrego said.

While culinary is something she’s passionate about, Abrego still gets burnt out after dedicating so much time and energy to it. Thinking of the end goal, the energy of her teammates, and taking a step back when necessary help to keep Abrego motivated.

“I spend a lot of time at culinary, hours upon hours. I’m there from 4 to 7 or 8 PM, as soon as school ends, and it’s just a lot of time spent there. I get really burned out, but then I remember the idea of me possibly being able to go and win state or win nationals and attain something that I’ve never done,” Abrego said. “I’ve done competitions before, but I’ve not always gotten to a certain spot. Getting tenth place and not first like we  wanted to this year at nationals is definitely something to motivate us.”

After years of culinary work and learning about the industry and people around her, Abrego has collected valuable life skills and learned important life lessons. Her experience has impacted her life outside of culinary as the things she learns can often be applied to other aspects of her life.

“I gained so much knowledge. I learned speaking skills which do help in my real life. A lot of the stuff I learn there I’m able to bring home. I’ll come home and make things and share them with my family,” Abrego said. “Hard work and perseverance really pays off, and the amount of time you spend doing something contributes. You can see where that leads you, like my friend, you can see how much work he’s put into it and how much he’s grown from state competitions to nationals.”

Abrego cherishes the moments she spends with her teammates and learning more about the industry she loves. She’s made lifelong bonds and collected unforgettable memories. Despite the long hours and hard work, Abrego has found a community that makes the effort worthwhile. 

About the Contributor
Rebecca Rios
Rebecca Rios, ENN Staff